Ryan Benoit is still kicking himself two weeks after a jaw-dropping knockout against Ashkan Mokhtarian at UFC Fight Night in Australia.
As good as it felt to land that head kick knockout against an opponent he didn’t like too much, Benoit knows that he probably should have returned home with a $50,000 bonus in his bank account but because he failed to make weight, he was ineligible for a ‘Performance of the Night’ award.
“Everybody that talked about the fight says I probably would have got the bonus but since I missed weight I didn’t get it,” Benoit told MMAWeekly. “I’ve been really trying not to think about it cause it f–king sucks. It is what it is.
“I missed weight. I got fined for that, I got the Australian taxes and then I think I would have got the bonus but I missed weight so it hurt. It’s bittersweet.”
Of course, Benoit doesn’t pass the buck on his failed weight cut, although he knows exactly where things went wrong.
The veteran UFC flyweight actually used the trainers and nutritionists at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas to get him ready for the weight cut, but traveling halfway across the world to fight in Australia, struggling to find the right foods to eat once he landed there and then miscalculating how those last few pounds would come off just backfired on him.
“I just didn’t prepare the right way a couple of days in advance,” Benoit said. “It was just a different feeling than I was used to. I think the travel to Australia didn’t help and then getting food that I needed there, I was struggling. All these factors kind of added up.
“I’m not pointing the fingers at anybody. I just didn’t make weight. The whole thing was off.”
That being said, Benoit still wants his future to be in the flyweight division because that’s where he’s been most effective in recent years. He already holds a knockout win over top five ranked flyweight Sergio Pettis, went to a split decision with top 10 rated Brandon Moreno and Benoit knows if he can string together a few impressive victories, he could be knocking on the door of title contention.
Of course, Benoit’s not opposed to taking fights at 135 pounds either if the right opportunity came along but he still feels his best chance to dominate a division will come at flyweight.
“I still want to stay at 125. I think that’s my weight class,” Benoit said. “I wouldn’t mind a fight here and there at 135 if it was the right fight or the right opponent. I’ve only fought in the UFC at 125. Any other promotion I’ve ever fought for before the UFC, I only fought at 135.
“I fought three guys who are in the top 10 and some of those guys I’ve had close fights with and others I’ve beaten, but I think 125 is my weight class. I’m not declining fighting at 135 thought cause I would love to not have to cut weight for a fight. But 125 is where I belong, I think that’s where I need to be.”
Perhaps the most important thing to Benoit right now is that he’s finally getting his act together outside the Octagon where he found a new home at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, which has given him the stability he needs with a coaching staff and high level training partners for the first time since he joined the UFC roster in 2013.
Add to that, Benoit is currently awaiting word on his next contract after fighting out his previous deal with the UFC that just ended with his victory against Mokhtarian.
Benoit would like nothing more than to stay with the UFC because he feels like he’s just now scratching the surface on what he’s going to be able to do over the next few years.
That’s also why Benoit is refusing to call out anybody right now because he wants to prove to the UFC that he’s capable of making weight and beating whoever they throw at him next. Once he puts together a few wins in a row, Benoit will gladly start asking for specific fights but until then he just wants to line them up so he can knock them down.
“There’s not anybody I’m looking to call out. First, I’m looking to get a new contract with the UFC and then we’ll go from there,” Benoit said. “Burt [Watson] used to always tell us when we’d go for check in day, it’s easy to get in the UFC…it’s harder to stay here. So I want to make sure I’m still with the best fighters. I want to get through this division but I want to make sure I’m doing it right.
“I’m hungry now to get through some of these other guys in the UFC. I want to keep running through these guys in the UFC and we’ll see where I’m at in a year and then I’ll start calling people out. First things first, I want to secure my spot and show that I’m here to stay.”